EU threatens to ban cocoa from Ghana over illegal mining

The European Union (EU) has threatened to stop importing cocoa from Ghana if the effect of illegal mining on the country’s environment is not checked.

The Deputy Chief Executive in-charge of Agronomy and Quality Control at COCOBOD, Dr Emmanuel Agyemang Dwomoh, said if the EU carries out its threat Ghana’s cocoa sector will suffer since it exports 80% of its produce to EU countries.

“As we speak, EU is threatening to ban Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, to impose legislative instrument restrictions on the importation of cocoa from Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire to their courts.”

He explained that the EU is taking this action because areas shown in satellite images to have been forested in the 70s and 80s in Ghana have all experienced land degradation in the decades since.

“When you take the satellite images, you will see some places in red. The EU thinks that all those places are red because cocoa is causing land degradation [in Ghana], meanwhile, it is as a result of the galamsey activities.”

Illegal mining which is popularly referred to as galamsey in Ghana has been a major concern in several sectors including agriculture and water.

Dr Agyemang Dwomoh said the effects of galamsey activities on the production of cocoa in Ghana and its exportation has been enormous and called for drastic measures to stop the illegal act.

“The impact of these mining activities on cocoa production is enormous. There is crop loss, reduction of crop yield and income, loss of vegetation, the fertility of the crop soil is destroyed and [there’s also] an early dropping of immature pods as a result of the chemicals that they use.”

He made this revelation at the National Consultative Dialogue on Small Scale Mining in Accra.

In January 2021, the EU said it will contribute €25 million to improve the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of cocoa production in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Cameroon who are the first, second, and fifth-biggest cocoa producers respectively.

This funding is to strengthen the partnership between Team Europe (composed of the EU, its Member States, and European financial institutions) and the three cocoa-producing countries. It is also to ensure that cocoa farmers earn a decent living income, to prevent deforestation and child labour.